Pipe Tables, Down and Dirty

My gorgeous new customized industrial workspace. Read on to learn how to build your own.

I’ve had this post on my to-do list for a while. A chronic perfectionist, I wanted to share with you beautiful photographs, detailed instructions, and inspire all you DIYers to rush out to the plumbing section of your local hardware store ASAP. After days of procrastination turned into weeks, I decided it was better to be finished than be perfect, and the following is what I have the time and energy to share at the moment. Please just say the word if you want more detail on any of the steps!

I can’t take credit for this project. The inspiration? Yes. Tyler was the brains and brawn behind this series of tables, of which there are three. Starting with the coffee table, Tyler figured out the best way to construct a solid (but aesthetically pleasing) base out of metal pipe with the least amount of special work. I drew the shape of base I wanted. We researched common sizes of pipe and drew a diagram and parts list that would get us to a close approximation of my ideal. Pipes of 1/2″ and 3/4″ steel were bought at Home Depot, cleaned, and screwed together.

If you plan to replicate this project, bear in mind that this is the trickiest part. Unless you plan to get lengths of pipe custom cut and threaded (and even if you do that), you need to think through the order in which you screw things together. Righty tighty, lefty loosey. If you are not careful, you will end up in a strangely vicious circle as adding pieces can undo earlier work. We used a product called JB Weld to give extra stability to our metal parts. We didn’t want to leave a chance for our hard work to unscrew itself! After we adhered the joints to each other with this welding compound, Tyler sanded off the excess JB Weld, sanded the base lightly, and spray painted the entire thing matte black. If you want a truly “rough” look you could leave the pieces “as is”.

Coffee Table

We had a piece of oak plywood cut for the top (because it was IMPOSSIBLE to find a reclaimed piece of wood locally the size we needed — and sourcing it elsewhere got us quotes in the several hundreds of dollars) and then Tyler used a miter saw to create trim that gave the top a more substantial look and feel. He used wood glue and a generous number of nails to affix the trim. After pre-drilling holes where screws would attach the top to the flanges capping the base, the top was sanded, stained (I helped!), and protected with three (or was it four?) layers of sealant. I was in charge of sealing and I used a new (to me) product that claimed to eliminate the need to sand between coats. That stuff was powerful. I felt like I was in a nail polish version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Be careful of those fumes! Tyler says I coughed for days in my sleep afterward, so maybe we shouldn’t buy this again. After a few days of drying, the table was ready for use!

Coffee Table in Progress - Mitered Trim + Nails + Wood Glue

For the desk pieces, we used the leftover cuts of the same sheet of plywood we used for the coffee table and a similar pattern for the base. I designed a two-piece workspace that included a long, somewhat shallow computer desk and a short wheeled accessory table. I LOVE having two tables. They are the same depth and I feel like I have infinite configurations at hand. Cart under the table, cart perpendicular to the table, cart beside the table, cart across the room… You get the idea.

Desks. Can you tell they are sad to be photographed so badly? : (

Under the desk is mounted a wooden box (Hobby Lobby=$3) stained the same color as the table, drilled with holes, that keeps excess cable length off the floor.

Cable Keeper Box - Drilled with holes for cables coming in, cables going out, and for ventilation (on the bottom).

Approximate Cost:

Coffee Table Base: 100

Desk Base: 75

Cart Base: 60

Plywood Tops: 40

JB Weld, Sandpaper, Stain, Varnish, Trim, etc.: 60

It wasn’t a “cheap” project, but I got a custom coffee table, desk, and cart out of the deal. I love the dimensions and the finishes — and I love that I can feel the care and ingenuity my husband put into building these pieces every time I use them.

I sincerely apologize for the bad pictures – and one day these beauties will get glamour shots that show you how awesome they are- but I did want to share what has been a very big project for us over the past few months.

7 thoughts on “Pipe Tables, Down and Dirty

  1. Pingback: DIY Pipe Furniture – Inspiration & Plan | Lauren Mechelle

  2. I was wondering if the top pieces of pipe on the coffee table are for aesthetics only or do they serve any purpose in the integrity of the table?

    • Hi JenGen,
      The horizontal “top” bars served 2 purposes. With such a large tabletop made out of a relatively thin material, we were worried about structural integrity. But, we also liked the design aspect. Hope that helps!

  3. This is SO COOL!!! Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m going to do something very similar for my home office. Love the look. You say it wasn’t a “cheap” project, but I’ll bet you could easily sell what you’ve built for a tidy profit. Just saying. 🙂

    • Thanks Roger! You’re right – now that I have used the table for a few years in my office and then as a sofa table in our family room (still looking great BTW!) I’m considering selling it and I think we’ll be able to break even (or better) on what was a really functional piece for our home! Good luck with your project. I’d love to see what you come up with. 🙂

      • Not sure I’ll stray too far from what you’ve done. I really like the idea of the second desk/table on casters. What sized pipe did you use for the desk? Looks bigger than 3/4″…

      • Another question, how are the caster attached? Were you able to find casters that were the right size to screw on? One of the things about this design that’s really attractive to me is that I can use it in whatever configuration I choose (as you mentioned above) Particularly want a corner type desk; which I can easily do with this sort of set up. I’m even thinking about putting casters on both. 🙂

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